John Hurrell – 14 February, 2013
So….air in popcorn, no air in solid balloons, more air in a hollow glass version of a foam fire extinguisher and a bunch of glass cherries. There is also implied air in a bronze toy pipe where originally Carr would blow the small ball up out of the basket. There is even air guitar, a very early video of him ‘playing' solos, fingering his remote video control as an ‘axe' - as if he were up on stage, a twitching orgasmic rock god.
31 January - 2 March 2013
This is a mini-survey (or a sampler of rarities) of Steve Carr’s sculpture and videos, a pithy selection of images and objects from when he started in 2001 and often based on childhood memories. Most here - not all - seem to dwell on his apparent oral fixations, especially fast foods, but beyond taste, smell (which I think of as taste without texture) plays a big role too.
Some are obvious crowdpleasers. Dead Time is a line of seven plasma screens with seven different apples all hanging off strings in a row. A bullet approaching from the left causes each in turn to explode and shatter into thousands of pieces, slowed down and left hovering so you can contemplate each white string swinging. Seemingly with the components filmed separately and later synchronised, this is an absorbing work watching the fruit vaporise. It has dubious undercurrents; it’s like watching sanitised versions of Peckinpah or Tarantino movies where the violence is understood but not openly stated.
In the middle of one of the two rooms is a large pile of strong-smelling popcorn (100kg, the artist’s weight apparently), while the cone shape is repeated next door in a series of c-type prints showing Carr with one, two, three and four shuttlecocks jammed into his mouth. Another series, of wall-mounted sculpture, shows replicas of 12 glistening icinged doughnuts lined up in a row. These are painted porcelain, but in cast bronze there is also a set of 10 semi-deflated balloons arrayed on a stand.
So….air in popcorn, no air in solid balloons, more air in a hollow glass version of a foam fire extinguisher and a bunch of glass cherries. There is also implied air in a bronze toy pipe where originally Carr would blow the small ball up out of the basket. There is even air guitar, a very early video of him ‘playing’ solos, fingering his remote video control as an ‘axe’ - as if he were up on stage, a twitching orgasmic rock god.
The theme of empty ‘interiors’ continues with a series of c-type prints of different fireman overalls and boots which the owners have peeled themselves out of and abandoned - like sloughed skins - some strange kind of shedded spoor. Peculiar companions for the glass extinguisher.
The last work I mention however goes in the opposite direction, a series of more c-type prints creating materiality by taking shadows (light negative spaces) from posed hands mimicking zoo animals and birds - and replacing these silhouettes with flesh and blood. Carr’s arms in these birthday party tricks are clothed in white and the final ‘exposed’ hands have plastic eyeballs added for comic effect.
This is a good show from Carr but not a great one. It is interesting in its subject matter but somehow it needs a little fizz. It is worth seeing, but you don’t want to leap up and down, as with my favourite Carr show, Mystical Realism, Modest Gestures. His other recent videos, like the ones in real time with chicken basting and dog grooming, are superb too, but they need an appropriate context, are less sensual, and more (like this show) about the modifying of nature for human consumption. Broader questions about attributes of culture.
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